A Day in the Life of a First-Year Teacher

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet Your Colleague Day

Yesterday, I made a trip up to the Bronx to go to the school and pick up my test dividers from the classroom. I wanted to change the design on the outside of my dividers for the start of the new school year and I found a really nice design called "More Math - More Possibilities!". Thanks to my amazing roommate who graciously allowed me to borrow his car for this little trip, I was able to just drive there, load up my dividers and drive back! (Although the rain wasn't necessarily the most welcome...) 

On my way back to the classroom to lock the door and leave, I ran into a nice, young man who was exiting from Ms. Lopez's office out the front door. We talked and introduced ourselves, and I found out that he was offered a position (quite early, I must say) as a math teacher here next year. When I asked what sections he had, my eyes immediately lit up. 5 sections of 8th grade math! "

"Hey, that was my schedule last year!", I told him. "I have 3 8th grade math sections and 2 Integrated Algebra sections this year."

We continued to talk and I found out about his education at Northwestern, what motivated him to leave Chicago (a great city) for New York (an even greater city) and why he wanted to teach in the Bronx. Turns out we had a lot in common!! Best of all, he's replacing Mr. Buchell (who got moved from 6th/8th grade to just 7th grade) next year! Score!! :)  

For purposes of this blog, we'll call my new friend and  the new math teacher Mr. Carter.

P.S. One of the best things about Mr. Buchell moving to 7th grade (a class he has never taught before in his 23 years of teaching) is that he will have to come up with new lesson plans every week, as Ms. Lopez is beginning to check his lessons - maybe ensuring a greater chance that he will actually teach next year? It's a long shot, but, hey, we can all dream right?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer job!

It's already July 19th... how in the world has more than 20 days of summer slipped past me already?? Wow!

But on a brighter note, my summer has been going beautifully (although it's been extremely hot and stuffy).

I never really considered getting a "summer job" during the school year, so I didn't bother to apply to be a summer school teacher. However, as we all know with this economy and not-so-high starting salaries here in NYC, teachers need all the extra dinero ($$$) they can get their hands on. So, I started a tutoring service for families wishing to give their children extra support before moving up a grade level. I have students entering 6th grade all the way to students entering 10th grade from Manahattan, Queens and Brooklyn. No Bronx kiddos though :(. I had always had a summer job while in school and college (Camp counselor! Tutor! Host! Camp assistant director! Personal shopper!) and even had a second job during the school year (GED/GRE tutor), so this isn't anything new to me.

All of my students are bright and motivated. Each of them earned a "B" or higher in last year's math class, so they're not really lacking any skills. And, as a bonus, I'm working with students that I don't see during the year (Caucasian & Asian-American students, etc.), so it's a nice and diverse mix. Another benefit is being able to preview and teach the different curriculums that I'm not familar with (6th grade math, 7th grade math, Integrated Algebra, etc.), which will give me an edge if I ever need to move grade levels at my school. (Even added benefit: I have 2 sections of Integrated Algebra next year, so this is my pre-preparing for that class too!)

My summer job is only 3 days a week, for 4 hours each (I have 12 students :)), which means I still have plenty of time to enjoy my summer and relax!

Teachers/students, how are your summers going? Other professionals, I hope you are still finding a way to enjoy summer... it's such a beautiful season!

NYS SCORES WERE RELEASED YESTERDAY!!! Congrats to all my wonderful students, all the students of New York, and all NY teachers!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer refreshments!

This is one of my favorite drinks in the world! It's healthy, cool, fun and refreshing... and since I live in New York, abundant and CHEAP!! I have a loyalty card at Vivi Bubble Tea in the Manhattan Chinatown and can get a large for only $2.50. Instead of drinking coffee every morning like a lot of my teacher colleagues, I am often seen around school with my bubble tea :) Bubble tea is probably the perfect drink for summer, since it is cold and fruity. In the winter, I sometimes get milk bubble tea without the ice to serve as a coffee substitute. Don't take my word for it though, try it yourself!

Fro-yo is a staple in the New York community. With the famous Pinkberry, most New Yorkers have experienced high quality fro-yo in their own backyards. In the Bronx, a family recently opened a fro-yo place called "Twist-It", which is pretty close to my school and therefore a destination of my many ventures during the year. Fro-yo is a healthy substitute to ice cream, and though I love and eat ice cream too, fro-yo makes you feel better about it because you can barely tell the difference, but you are eating something healthier. Plus, fro-yo gives you the option of adding fun toppings to your dessert - oreos, cereal, gummy bears, fruits, fruits, fruits and much more!

Hope you enjoyed this post and have the chance to experience both of these amazing things!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Re-Blog: Facts about American Teachers

This post was originally published on the blog "The Life of a Student Teacher" on February 11th, 2012. Here is a link to the blog: http://thelifeofastudentteacher-msmilitello.blogspot.com/ 

I found this post concerning the teaching profession in the United States extremely interesting. I think you guys should check it out!

  • Studies prove that a great teacher can impart a year and a half’s worth of learning to a student in one year. source
  • Good teaching over a sustained period can [help students] overcome the disadvantages of poverty. source
  • 77 percent of U.S. adults feel teaching is among the most under-appreciated professions in the U.S. source
  • 76 percent agree that many of the smartest people in society don’t go into teaching because being a teacher doesn’t pay enough. source
  • 46 percent of teachers in public schools leave the profession within five years. source
  • 14 percent of teachers leave the profession each year; in urban districts, the turnover is higher: 20 percent. source
  • High turnover of American teachers costs our country over $7 billion every year. source
  • Teachers are priced out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas. source
  • Only 4.7 percent of college juniors would consider teaching at the current starting salary. 68 percent of college students said they would consider the teaching profession if it paid 50 percent more than the current occupations they were considering. source
  • Teachers work an average of ten hours per day. source
  • 92.4 percent of teachers spent their own money on their students or classrooms during the 2007-2008 school year.source
  • 62 percent of teachers have second jobs outside of the classroom. source
  • Monday, July 9, 2012

    Sweet, Sweet Summer

    I'M BACK!!

    Haven't been on the blog for quite some time since summer began.

    I just wanted to let you all know that I am LOVING my summer so far!

    I've been spending many days relaxing and cooling down from a successful but exhausting first year as a teacher in the Bronx. It's a feeling that I never got too much during the year since so much was going on at once, but now, I have a solid 2-and-a-half months of relatively less stress and workload. So far, I used up almost an entire "bottle" of sunscreen after spending so much time out in the city and the (very!) hot sun.

    I'm also doing things that I never got to do during the year as well. Things like being the last one of my roommates to wake up (during the school year I was the first), watching all four hours of the Today show (I miss Ann Curry a lot, but Savannah Guthrie is a good co-host too), checking my Facebook more regularly, staying in touch with friends and family, etc. Yep, this really is sweet, sweet summer!

    Back in elementary/middle/high school, summer was a welcome break from the hassles of the school year. I would hang out with my friends, stay up very late, go to huge parties, work as a camp counselor, be with my family and go on faraway vacations. In college, I spent summers abroad volunteering in Central America and in Africa, catching up on credit hours at NYU, traveling with my family and spending lots of time with old friends from high school that I rarely saw. As a teacher, I LOVE that my schedule is similar to what it was back in school - it's a similar structure and one that I can both get used to and love. Summer is still in its traditional place, and unlike the vast majority of my friends who are still working the same hours now, I am not. Of course, they definitely don't even come close to how much I work during the school year, but now it's a chance for me to get even! :)

    I spent both yesterday and today hanging out with a really good friend of mine, Ryan. In high school, when Ryan was a freshman, I was a junior - but what really surprised me when I first met him was that he was only 8 months younger than me. Ryan was the kid that all the girls really liked: athletic, funny, smart and charming. Ryan also built great friendships, including our friendship. When I graduated, Ryan was still in high school, and we didn't talk as much as we used to when I was just starting out college. I ran into a Facebook status that he posted two years ago and realized that we stopped talking in the midst of our busy lives. Today, I am really glad Ryan and I are still good friends. We're kind of like twins in a way - hey, we both went to the same high school and we were both voted "most popular"! It was really nice to catch up with him and hang out like we did back when I was still in school. Ryan's considering Teach for America when he graduates at the end of the year next year, and I think my crazy stories about my classroom put him over the top! Oh my, if I could be teacher buddies with Ryan someday... #bestfriends #craziness

    Those hashtags not only symbolize my friendship with Ryan, but also mean that I recently joined the TWITTER GANG!! It's something new all right, and I still have a lot to learn but I feel like I'm getting the hang of it pretty quickly. The privacy settings are definitely a lot more clear than on Facebook, so that's really good. Also, I like getting more real-time updates from the celebrities and people that I'm following. And I think my followers like getting more updates from me, since, ya know, updating constantly on Facebook is a social no-no.

    Speaking of social networking, I'm still keeping up with our class page on Facebook that I started this winter! My students are sending me messages about their summers and I'm replying and telling them some things about mine. It's so nice that I get to keep up with them over the break and I've received countless notes telling me that "I'm the best teacher ever" and that the kids were "so so so lucky to have me as their teacher" :) I'm not allowed to be friends with them because of a new NYCDOE policy, but this is pretty close! Hopefully we can still keep up during the school year too...

    I'm also planning my schedule for summer professional development and networking - so I'll keep y'all updated on that. Also, I'm looking into a graduate school program to apply to possibly next summer. Having a Master's degree definitely helps with a considerable salary raise, and although experts and teachers are divided on this, may help make me an even better teacher. So far, I have Teachers College (Columbia University), NYU Steinhardt, CUNY and Hunter on my list.

    Thank you for reading! I hope to keep you updated even more in the future about my summer adventures!